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HTC Desire S will be free with a £35 contract in the UK on Orange

Orange has started selling the HTC Desire S smart phone in the UK, offering the device for free on £35 per month contracts. It won't be the only operator offering it, however.

The HTC Desire S Android smart phone has gone on sale in the UK today through Orange, with the network offering the device's black model for free to anyone willing to sign up to a £35 per month contract.

Orange will be preloading several of its own services on the Desire S, including Orange Mail and Orange Maps. The operator also says the handset is the first Android device from HTC to support its Signal Boost service, which lets people boost their reception when at home and within range of their Wi-Fi network. Previously, HTC's non-Android Touch 3G phone also worked with Signal Boost.

The Desire S has certainly been worth waiting for. The phone has an aluminium 'unibody' chassis to make it feel solid and stylish, although its 3.7-inch, 480x800-pixel touchscreen doesn't quite measure up to the more expensive Desire HD.

The original Desire's optical trackpad has been removed -- not a great loss -- and there's a 1GHz Snapdragon processor teamed with 768MB of RAM for smooth performance, albeit not of the dual-core variety that's being seen in a number of new smart phones this year.

The Desire S comes with the Android 2.3 Gingerbread software pre-installed, including support for video calls, which is aided by its front-facing camera. The rear camera is 5 megapixels, and is capable of shooting 720p video footage.

Orange isn't the only UK operator to be selling the HTC Desire S, of course. T-Mobile still has the device listed on its Coming Soon page with an April release date. Meanwhile, Vodafone has been taking pre-orders for a free Desire S on a two-year contract since the end of March.

Looking for a SIM-free Desire S? Online retailer Clove has the device in stock now, with an unlocked price of £383.